It’s mid-August and we’ve had some nice rains and two weeks where we’ve had unusual weather for August – low humidity, slightly below average temperatures – what a gift for gardeners (and everybody else, too!) Even so, most of the plants in my gardens look tired; most of the blooming plants are done and even the foliage looks droopy (sort of like me).
One outstanding exception has been my garden phlox (Phlox paniculata). It started blooming late spring and hasn’t quit yet. The Tiger and Eastern swallowtail butterflies love it, as do hummingbirds, bumblebees and other pollinators.
This is the first time I’ve grown Garden Phlox, although I’d wanted to grow it for many years. In the past, I avoided it because it was very susceptible to powdery mildew and powdery mildew, in Southern Indiana, is everywhere. Our hot and (very) humid summers make powdery mildew difficult to prevent. Now, there are several powdery mildew resistant cultivars, which make growing Garden Phlox a real pleasure.
Hardy in Zones 4 to 8, this native plant has been cultivated and hybridized to offer not only powdery mildew resistance, but a rainbow of colors and color blends. The one I currently have is a vivid pink, which sort of matches my plastic pink flamingos, but I intend to get more colors of this great plant (note for next spring!).
The one problem I have with the Garden Phlox is that it really needs supporting, otherwise the heavy blooms cause the stem to lean over. This could be because they are growing in part shade and get a little “leggy”. I was doing some on-line reading which suggested pinching back the stems to encourage a fuller growth habit (another note for next spring!). I think I will just plan on providing some staking or support next year. Hmmm….Wonderful Husband’s bamboo seems like a no-cost, sustainable staking material (imagine Evil Laugh).
This fall, after the first killing frost, I’ll trim them back to a few inches above the ground and add more mulch. Yes, just like you, I’m already thinking about this autumn and next spring…part of the real joy of gardening is imagining how nice your garden will look NEXT year!
Stay green, good friends.